INDIANAPOLIS–When we last left UCLA linebacker Jordan Zumwalt, he was leaving the field following a practice at the Senior Bowl, and blood was trickling from his forehead. This was one day after coaches had instructed Zumwalt to dial back his contact.
You want a hitter? Zumwalt is your guy.
Zumwalt will work out on Monday at the scouting combine, and should his athletic measurables equal his gusto for the game, Zumwalt might begin a sharp rise up draft boards.
“Coach Mora really helped change the program a lot. UCLA used to have the reputation of being soft. A lot of our guys hated that. We weren’t about that at all. That’s when Coach Mora showed up and he just made it OK for us to be ourselves,” Zumwalt said.
The new directive culminated with Zumwalt delivering the hit of the bowl season, a knockout blow to Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas.
“That probably is the best hit of my career, and I’m really grateful for that opportunity I had,” Zumwalt said. “You know, everybody wants to take the quarterback out of the game. It’s nice when you don’t have to play against the starting quarterback.”
On the surface, Zumwalt doesn’t appear to fit the new NFL culture, but Seattle just won a Super Bowl with an against-the-grain approach, and a Packers team in need of help on defense, especially at linebacker, might have interest in Zumwalt.
“It was against Oregon,” Zumwalt said when asked on Saturday about the personal foul penalty that earned him notoriety for being a borderline dirty player. “I’d hit De’Anthony Thomas. I hit him across the middle and I gave him a ‘good night’ (hands together, up against the side of the face as if he were sleeping). I was just all emotion. Thinking back to it, I was an idiot for doing that. You should never do that. It looks bad. I was really caught up in the emotion and that’s what I did. It felt right at the time. That’s the way I was feeling toward him, so that’s what I did. It turned out that it wasn’t a penalty because I didn’t hit him with just my helmet. It wasn’t targeting, so there was no reason to throw the flag.”
Want some muscle? Can you live with a player that doesn’t fit the culture? Here’s your guy.
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